Book Reviewers Wanted and Cover Reveal

I_Am_Lion

All right, readers, my second book, I Am the Lion,  is gearing up for publication on Amazon KDP!  I am still thrilled by the wonderful reviews and feedback I continue to receive from my debut novel The Man in the Box (2012). I’m looking for 10 willing book reviewers to receive free PDF copies of I Am the Lion to review for their blogs. If you’re interested, specifics are listed at the bottom of this post.  Please continue reading to learn more about my next book.

First off, let me give a big, huge thank you to artist and graphic arts designer Kyle Richardson for designing the cover. I had a pretty good picture in my mind when I told him what I wanted it to look like, and, as usual, he exceeded expectations. You should give him a holler and check out his artwork and inspirations at Spur Creative and The Roundup Blog.

I Am the Lion will be a wonderful book to read for the holidays and a great gift for the readers in your life. It is the story of a young girl, Lydia, raised by her widowed, bipolar father who struggle to find common ground. Only when Lydia’s fourth-grade teacher steps into their lives do they slowly build a connection, but that bond is threatened when a secret comes out that threatens to scar Lydia for the rest of her life.

You can read the first chapter here.

In order to qualify for an ARC (advance reader’s copy), there are just two things I’m looking for.

1. Book reviewer must have at least 100 followers on his/her blog

2. The book is about 37,000 words, so it’s a short one. That in mind, I would like for the reviewer to be completed with the book and have a review posted on their blog by November 21st

If you can fulfill both qualifications, please email me at andrewtoy1208@aol.com with a link to your blog and I will be more than happy to send you a copy. Please note that there is some brief strong language.

Happy reading!

4 New Book Announcements from the Author of The Man in the Box

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man in box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a busy year for us Toys. Aside from bringing our beloved foster daughter into our home, having some major job changes, helping one of our pups recover from back surgery, I’ve also been very busy writing my next few books.

Many of you may have read my debut novel The Man in the Box, and may be excited to know that a bigger, more suspense-filled revised edition is due sometime down the road. But in the meantime, I’m excited to share with you brief details about my next four books.

I Am the Lion (2014) fiction

The story of a young girl, Lydia, raised by her widowed, bipolar father who struggle to find common ground. Only when Lydia’s fourth-grade teacher steps into their lives do they slowly build a connection, but that bond is threatened when a secret comes out that threatens to scar Lydia for the rest of her life.

Oskar (2015) young readers

Meet Oskar, a dachshund who lives in Germany in the year 1940. He aspires to be a Nazi like his role models, but when he meets a young Jewish girl, he learns what the Nazis’ agenda really is, and changes course.

Untitled Ghost novel (TBA) teen 

A boy and a girl are best friends until he dies in an accident. He visits her as a ghost, living life vicariously through her, laughing with her, playing with her, singing with her, and falling in love with her.

Tomorrow’s War (TBA) fiction

Several families struggle to survive as unknown forces affect the earth’s weather from above.

Leave a comment below. Which book are you most looking forward to? And happy reading!

They Risked All

The-American-Patriots-Almanac-365-reasons-to-love-AmericaThe following is taken from The American Patriot’s Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb.

On July 4, 1776, delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence. The men who issued that famous document realized they were signing their own death warrants, since the British would consider them traitors. Many suffered hardship during the Revolutionary War.

William Floyd of New York saw the British use his home for a barracks. His family fled to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees. After the war Floyd found his fields stripped and house damaged.

Richard Stockton of New Jersey was dragged from his from his bed, thrown into prison, and treated liked a common criminal. His home was looted and his fortune badly impaired. He was released in 1777, but his health was broken. He died a few years later.

At age sixty-three, John Hart, another New Jersey signer, hid in the woods during December 1776 while Hessian soldiers hunted him across the countryside. He died before the war’s end. The New Jersey Gazette reported that he “continued to the day he was seized with his last illness to discharge the duties of a faithful and upright patriot in the service of his country.”

Thomas Nelson, a Virginian, commanded militia and served as governor during the Revolution. He reportedly instructed artillerymen to fire at his own house in Yorktown when he heard the British were using it as a headquarters. Nelson used his personal credit to raise money for the Patriot cause. His sacrifices left him in financial distress, and he was unable to repair his Yorktown home after the war.

Thomas Heyward, Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge, three South Carolina signers, served in their state’s militia and were captured when the British seized Charleston. They spent a year in a St. Augustine prison and, when released, found their estates plundered.

Such were the prices paid so we may celebrate freedom every Fourth of July.

Write “Mississippilessly”

Spray-Tan-02Do you remember that scene in Friends where Ross keeps getting 2’s sprayed on his face in the tanning booth? It’s probably one of my favorite scenarios in the series.

In the scene, Ross goes to a tanning salon where he is told to count to five after his front has been sprayed, then turn around so his back can get sprayed.

Once the first spray goes off, he begins counting:

“One-Mississippi. Two-Mississippi. Three-Miss-“

And the spray goes off again before he turns around.

The result is Chandler sarcastically suggesting he went to the sun to get his tan.

We’re like that sometimes with our writing, aren’t we? We get stuck in a system, or what we think is our “groove.” We think the only way to count is “Mississippily.”

When really, all we need to do is let go of some of our inhibitions or habits and let the story (or blog post or essay or article) tell itself. We just need to be there to dictate the words.

I’ll sometimes follow an outline when I write, but then when the story starts taking its own course, I get nervous thinking that I shouldn’t be straying from the outline. But I’ve got to be willing to go with the flow and see where the story is taking me.

Think about the steps you can take today to write “Mississippilessly” and let your story take on a life of its own, without you getting in the way.

 

It Doesn’t Stop at The Hunger Games

gregor series

While writing my young readers historical fiction book about a dachshund in Nazi Germany, I’ve been reading two types of books: historical books surrounding the Nazi era and young readers books.

While it’s pretty easy to find really enthralling historical books, young readers books that aren’t dumbed down are kind of hard to come by, outside of Harry Potter and a few classical works.

My wife and I are big fans of The Hungers Games books, so I asked her, “Would you be interested in reading Suzanne Collins children’s book series?”

“What are they about?”

“This kid who goes underground and meets giant bugs and rats and spiders and stuff.”

“No way,” she said. “That sounds gross.”

So, I got her the set for Christmas.

You may be reading this and thinking, I’ve heard of Collins’s young readers books, and giant insects and stuff just don’t appeal to me.

Let me tell you that Sarabeth and I have both read the series since Christmas and are in love with Gregor the Overlander.

Don’t judge a book before you read it. Suzanne Collins is at the top of her game with her Gregor series. There are very similar themes as in The Hunger Games, and even though they’re directed at young readers instead of teens, I’m not quite sure the subject matter is any less impactful and thought-provoking.

Gregor is a twelve-year-old boy who accidentally falls down the laundry chute with his two-year-old sister, Boots. Together, they fall down, down, down to the Underland, an entire underground world that exists underneath New York City.

There, they befriend humans and giant cockroaches and spiders and bats – who are the main mode of transportation. Like The Hunger Games, hardly anything in these books is at all predictable.

The first book, Gregor the Overlander, was a wonderful introduction to this dark world, and introduced probably one of my favorite literary characters of all time (he’s a giant rodent) who remains a key player throughout the series. Books 2-3 weren’t as captivating, but there’s enough action that young kids – boys or girls – would enjoy them. Book 4, The Marks of Secret, was a good prelude to the final book of the series – The Code of Claw – which was one of the coolest, and heartbreaking, conclusions to a series I can remember.

Collins is a master at causing you to feel sympathy for her characters, be they people, cockroaches, bats, or rats. Her plots are very deep and interwoven, but not so complicated that an eight-year-old wouldn’t get it.

Sarabeth and I will both be returning to these books very soon, and will most definitely pass them down to our kids (though because there are some very gruesome and gory scenes, we would suggest no younger than eight, depending on the child’s maturity level).

But even if you don’t have kids and you’re just looking for a great series to get immersed in, I can’t recommend Gregor enough. Another treat by Collins, is her children’s picture book, Year of the Jungle, which serves as sort of her mini-autobiography and explains a lot about the inspiration behind her books.

Year-of-Jungle-Cover_510x411

Some Reading Fun

Enjoy this excerpt from my book, The Man in the Box. There will be a release date for the second edition coming soon. And don’t forget to Like The Man in the Box Facebook page for a chance to win a free, autographed copy!

From Chapter 18

Robbie turned off the radio. It was up to him to break the ice. He said, “We missed you at breakfast.”

Taylor continued to stare at the window with her chin in her hand.

“That coffee’s for you,” he said, motioning toward the mug in the cup holder beside them. “Just cream. No sugar.”

“I like sugar now,” mumbled Taylor.

Robbie nodded, taking note of one of the many changes about his little girl. “How’s Darrin?” he asked, but bit his tongue as soon as the wrong name snuck out of his mouth.

“It’s Dwayne. And fine.”

“You never did tell me why you were crying last night. I figured you had broken up.”

“Dwayne wants me to go to a party that I know you’re not going to let me go to; it’s no big deal, okay? There. You know all you need to know.” She said this as she pulled a piece of paper out of a side pocket from her duffle bag and shoved it in his direction.

Robbie didn’t know what frustrated him more: the fact that this twerp was pressuring his daughter to go to a party or that she was still dating him.

Wanting to steer clear of the romance department, he ignored the paper she was pushing toward him and decided to just jump in feet first and get to the bottom of last night’s escape attempt. He asked, “What happened last night? Where were you going? Were you going to that party?”

“No, I wasn’t. It’s not for a while. Next month or something,” was Taylor’s muffled response.

“You know you’re grounded, right?”

“Good. I love missing out on my social life,” snapped Taylor, throwing the paper to the floorboard in a fit.

“Hey. Don’t get smart with me,” retorted Robbie, growing angry.

Taylor threw back, “You’re the ones who think you’re so smart! You don’t even know what I was doing last night!”

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you were sneaking out, Taylor. So maybe we’re not as smart as you think!” Robbie shook his head and vilified himself for his absent-minded comeback.

Taylor just rolled her eyes and turned her head away, refocusing her sight out the window.

After a moment, a calmer Robbie asked, “So what were you doing last night?”

“What do youcare? You’re too busy coming up with reasons to get me in trouble.”

“Not get you in trouble. We’re trying to keep you fromtrouble.”

Taylor just mimicked Robbie, sticking her lower lip out in a mock gesture. He just about blew a fuse. He prayed her own children would be just like her for the sole purpose of making her pay for all of his headaches.

“Here’s a newsflash Taylor,” started Robbie. “If you would just talkto us, then maybe we wouldn’t be so suspicious of whatever you’re doing. What is it, Taylor? I care; talk to me. Is it drugs?”

“Dad.”

“You’re not into that voodoo Wicca stuff are you?”

“No.”

“Is it sex?”

Dad!

“Oh please don’t let it be sex. You already have a kid, don’t you?”

“Yes, Dad, I managed to hide my fat stomach from the entire family for nine months.”

“You see! I don’t know if you’re telling me the truth right now or just being sarcastic with me which, as you know, would be lying,” yelled Robbie. “I don’t know how to read you.”

“Why do you even have to read me at all? Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

Robbie stopped behind a line of cars at the stoplight. “Because you’re my daughter, and that’s not what parents do, Taylor. Apparently you’ll find that out in about fifteen years when little Wayne is sitting in your spot and you’re driving him to school.”

Taylor sighed in utter frustration saying, “I don’t have a baby, Dad!”

“Is there a chance that you could be having one?” Robbie awkwardly asked, unable to suppress his curiosity.

The light was still red, and Taylor flew open the door and jumped out of the car yelling over her shoulder, “I’m walking to practice!” Then she slammed the door, flying her duffle bag over her shoulder.

Robbie, in a moment of utter shock, had his eyes only on Taylor when he gassed the car to follow after her. He flew right into the car in front of him, lurching him forward, catching on the seatbelt. The sound of crunching metal sent him into a panic as he saw dollar signs float away on wings all around him. The coffee spilled all over his right leg throwing him into a world of pain, and he clumsily tried pulling his pant leg apart from his skin to ease the burn.

He looked at Taylor who was just a few feet away, expecting her to come back to the car. But she just gave him those eyes that told him he was just plain embarrassing and continued to walk off.

 

Book Trailer!

It’s not a video, but I’ve taken parts of my book and compiled them into movie trailer format. Enjoy the “trailer” to my book, like it on Facebook, and buy it when the new and improved edition is released!

“Look out your window. Is that a dinosaur, Jeremy?” Robbie asks his son in the back seat, who stays glued to the game on his iPad. “You know, stomping around. Eating things?” Robbie’s wife, Rosalynn, looks at him with a smirk from the passenger seat.

—–

Gothic_Boy_Small_crop_large“Who’s this?” asks Robbie, interrupting his daughter’s kiss with the creepy-looking college kid. “This is Dwayne. Dwayne, my dad.”

“Good to meet you, kiddo,” says Robbie, shaking his hand. “Derek, was it?”

—–

“While your blood sugar and heart level are fine, there seems to be a blockage which is just a bit concerning to me,” says the doctor from across the desk.

“How concerning?” asks Rosalynn, reaching for Robbie’s hand.

“Concerning enough that we’re going to have to keep you overnight.”

—–

“Toy’s debut novel will leave readers talking and will make them instant fans of his storytelling abilities.” -Nicole McManus, reviewer and blogger

—–

“I’m sure you know we’re letting people go.” says Robbie’s boss.fired

“Don’t do this to me, Kurt.”

“I’ll give you a good reference. I’m sorry, Robbie. We’re only keeping a small handful of people, if it makes you feel better.”

Oh yes. Much, thinks Robbie.

—–

“I’ve got something big,” says Robbie’s coworker. “You won’t believe what I found. We have access to his clients. We use these leads, we’ll have jobs again in no time!”

“What do we have to do?” Robbie asks.

“We sneak in, pull up the information, print it out, and leave.”

—–

Robbie is in an empty warehouse, tapping his foot anxiously, waiting for the age-old man-peeking-out-of-moving-boxprinter to print the documents. He hears the bar on the door move. Panicking, he jumps inside a nearby cardboard box, just big enough to fit him if he scrunches. He closes his eyes

and all goes black.

When he opens his eyes he sees that he is crouching in a giant puddle of crystal-blue phosphorescent water. The water glows brightly enough to reveal a vast cavern surrounding him.

—–

Robbie, still dressed in his suit, is in the jungle talking to a little girl.

The girl takes a step toward him and lifts his tie from his chest. “This looks stupid. Do you use it to swat at flies or something?”

“No. It’s just for looks. It makes me look powerful and in control,” answers Robbie.

—–

jungle“I’m so glad you’re finally with us,” a beautiful young woman says to Robbie. She opens her arms and asks, “May I?”

Only for the rest of our lives, thinks Robbie, looking nervous.

“You don’t look powerful and in control to me,” observes the little girl nearby.

—–

“It’s getting dark,” says the young woman. “We need to go underground now.”

“Why?” asks Robbie.zombies

“Because they’ll be here soon.”

“Who?”

—–

Chills go down Robbie’s spine at the thought of supernatural beings reaping havoc mere feet above his head, and all because they are looking for him.

—–

“This was a heart-stopping suspense adventure like I haven’t read in a long time.” -Cherese Vines, author and blogger

—–

The little girl bites down hard on Robbie’s hand underwater. He screams.

—–

“What happened to your hand?” asks Rosalynn, in their kitchen. Robbie is back home now.

“I had the most incredible dream ever!” Robbie explains. “I was on this island and this little girl was chasing me through some caves and she tried to drown me. That’s when she bit me. Then we saw a dinosaur—an actual, real dinosaur, Rosalynn! Isn’t that insane?”

He uses the word “insane” the same way one might use the word “cool” or “unbelievable”. But Rosalynn obviously takes it for its literal meaning.

“Yes, it is. Honey, I think you need to relax for a bit.”

—–

centipedesRobbie, back in the jungle is pinned to the tree by a giant centipede, while dozens of little ones scurry up his legs into his pants.

—–

“What are we hiding from every night?” Robbie asks the beautiful woman.

“Pruflas.”

“What are they?”

—–

A prufla is breathing heavily on the woman’s neck in a dimly-lit space. It has the form of a corpse with blotchy skin like vegetable bruises. Its eyes are rolled into the back of its head and two slits are where its nose should be.

—–

“Why not just fight them?” asks Robbie. “Declare war.”

An old man shakes his head. “They don’t live. So they can’t be killed. Victory would be impossible.”

—–

“I’m finding centipedes everywhere,” says Rosalynn. “I must’ve killed three of them today.”

—–

Taylor comes running downstairs, screaming, and shaking centipedes out of her hair.

—–

Robbie is in his backyard and slowly backs away as small dinosaurs come crawling out of Eoraptor1the box toward him.

—–

“Get back in the box, Robbie,” says an old man in his house.

“No.”

“Get back in the box or I’ll kill your family off one by one.”

—–

Robbie is frantically ushering his family in the car. Once they’re all in, he peers in the window at Rosalynn and says, “You guys need to get out of here. Drive anywhere; I don’t care. Just get away from here!”

—–

Jeremy is in the back seat of the car sitting next to the box. “Mom. There’s something moving in this box back here.”

“It’s probably just the bumps in the road, sweetheart,” assures Rosalynn.

man in boxSECOND EDITION – SPRING 2014

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